Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stagnation: The Curse of the "Occupy" Movement - Updated

One of the pitfalls of being a successful political movement is stagnation.  Once the original message of the movement has reached the desired audience, the movement needs to strike while the iron is hot and push for permanent inclusion in the political discussion.  The creators of the astroturf “tea party” movement knew that they had a very limited window of opportunity to get their movement permanent inclusion in the political discussion.

The creators of the “tea party” movement corralled the ginned up anger and put their money behind people willing to run for office under the “tea party” movement banner.  It was money well spent.  60 adherents of the “tea party” movement were voted into the House of Representatives, such as Congressman Paul Ryan, helping to sweep the Republicans into power.  A few “tea party” movement darlings also were elected to the Senate, such as Senator Rand Paul.

Even though the “tea party” adherents in Congress are a minority, even within the Republican House and Senate caucuses, they have been able to wield incredible power.  They have been able to force vote after vote on destructive legislation.  They have been able to include destructive amendments in must pass legislation.

But the destructive force of the “tea party” adherents hasn’t been limited to Congress.  In state legislatures and governor’s mansions, the “tea party” has installed itself.  With their new found power, they have inflicted almost irreparable harm to social safety net.  They have pushed for requiring food stamp and unemployment insurance recipients to be drug tested.  They have thrown tens of thousands of childless adults off of their state’s Medicaid rolls and capped enrollment. 

The “tea party” has targeted public and private sector employees by stripping them of their right to collectively bargain and by creating more so called “right to work states”.  They are pushing for the “free markets” not only to be taught as a class, but to be a requirement for graduation.  They are forcing schools to offer elective classes about the bible.  At the same time they are cutting school budgets.

This destruction is all due to the seizing of the moment to push candidates that support the “tea party” movement or are members by those who were the creators of the movement.  They didn’t fall into the trap of stagnation.

The “Occupy” movement, on the other hand, has become stagnant.  Although they once focused the nation’s political discussion on the massive income disparity in our nation, they have become stagnant and have failed to seize the moment.  They have yet to field one candidate to challenge a sitting Democrat or Republican.

Protests have their purposes.  But protests have a limited shelf life.  If they don’t evolve, the core message dies and people forget.  If the core message of the “Occupy” movement is to survive, the “Occupy” movement has to evolve and evolve quickly.  They need to field candidates.  But they need to field candidates who are going to push the core message of the 99%.

My fear is that they are all too happy being protestors.

*Update* I was sent a message during the night on Crooks and Liars that Nathan "Nate" Kleinman is the first "Occupy" candidate and actually had a write up in Politico

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